Monday, January 16, 2017

17 graduating artists!

Artists & Makers Studios Presents
“Compass Atelier Thesis Exhibition”
with seventeen graduating artists

Artists & Makers Studios on Parklawn in Rockville will present one exhibit in three galleries for the month of February. The first 17 member graduating class of The Compass Atelier’s Master Artist Program will present their Thesis Exhibition. The Compass Atelier is an art school located within the Artists & Makers Studios flagship studio center on Parklawn Drive. The Atelier runs a unique program of study called the Master Artist Program (MAP). The MAP is a 3-year fully comprehensive course of study for painters looking to master their craft and achieve a professional practice. Students spend their entire third year developing a thesis—a series of paintings exploring a personal and well-executed concept.

“Compass Atelier Thesis Exhibition”
with seventeen graduating artists
Opening Reception
6:00 PM – 9:00 PM, Friday, February 3, 2017
Artists & Makers Studios
11810 Parklawn Dr., Suite 210
Rockville, MD 20852

Additionally A&M is proud to also present exhibits at Artists & Makers Studios 2 at 12276 Wilkins Avenue in Rockville, just 9/10’s of a mile from the flagship location.
Desolate Beauty: Desert Landscapes with photographer Alex Keto - an exhibit of desert landscapes that captures the desolate beauty of the American Southwest. Although deserts are known for their wide-open vistas and immense horizons, the land features a sense of light found nowhere else. Additionally “What’s Your Passion” in the New Masters Gallery and “5 by 5” with five members of the Montgomery County Camera Club will fill the galleries at Wilkins, along with artists’ open studios.

Exhibits at both locations open Friday, February 3rd, and continue through Thursday, February 23rd, 2017.  Viewing hours are 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Tuesday-Friday, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM Saturdays, and Sundays/Mondays by chance or appointment.

Artists & Makers Studios on Parklawn Drive in Rockville, established in October 2014 by artist and arts community builder Judith HeartSong, is a 13,000 sq. ft. facility is home to 68 resident artists. Newly opened Artists & Makers Studios 2 on Wilkins Avenue in Rockville is a 23,000 sq. ft. facility with 49 resident artists and more to come. A&M Studios is dedicated to providing a supportive and vibrant environment for artists to realize their creative goals - through studio practice, collaboration, education, opportunities, networking and connecting with the community beyond their doors. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Auction Good Deals!

These two signed framed prints (each from a tiny edition of 2) are being offered at a starting bid that is less than the cost of the frames!

See them here...

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Anatomy of a another commission

Background: At the 2016 SOFA art fair in Chicago, a local Chicago collector acquired one of my large drawings, and told the gallery that he'd like to discuss possibly commissioning two additional pieces in the same size to create a full wall.

Subsequently the collector and I get in touch, and via email we begin coordinating the commission(s). Essentially he wants two additional pieces that can work together... almost like a planned triptych.

The work that the collector already has, depicts a nude woman, jumping from the upper left of the composition into open space. He actually comes up with an excellent idea: The left-most piece would be the same figure, but walking from left to right; the middle piece is again the same figure, but climbing a ladder to the upper right. His piece, then would show her jumping into space.

I really like the idea, and he also tells me that he's open to other suggestions... I tell him that I'll do some rough's what I've come up with:

Rough sketch for a commission - 2017 F. Lennox Campello

That's his idea above, and then I come up with a couple of different versions:

Rough sketch for a commission - 2017 F. Lennox Campello
In this version, the center figure is on a swing... I also send him a rough sketch of that center piece:

Rough sketch for a commission - 2017 F. Lennox Campello

And one last version, where the center figure is on stilts:

Rough sketch for a commission - 2017 F. Lennox Campello

And a rough sketch of the "new" middle piece:

Rough sketch for a commission - 2017 F. Lennox Campello
And now... let's see where we go next!

Tania Bruguera Brutalized Again

The criminals of Castro's Cuban Workers' Paradise have once again...
Bruguera and Casanella were pulled over due to an alleged technical or administrative problem with the van they had rented, which was laden with donated mattresses and rice destined for citizens of Baracoa, a city that was pummeled by Matthew in October...
...Casanella was allegedly physically attacked during his detention, and Bruguera was questioned for six hours by four counterintelligence officers and Lieutenant Colonel Kenia, who has monitored the artist’s activities in the past. The point of the questioning and the pretext for the pair’s detention remain unknown, but Bruguera will not be permitted to deliver the donated goods to hurricane victims in Baracoa. She plans to travel back to Boston to teach her class at Harvard University today, assuming Cuban authorities allow her to leave the country.
Read the whole report here, and put your own artistic issues in perspective.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Alper Initiative's Birthday!

The Alper Initiative for Washington Art is one year old!

The initiative promotes an understanding and appreciation of the art and artists of the Washington Metropolitan Area. They provide and staff a dedicated space located within the American University Museum, to present exhibitions, programs, and resources for the study and encouragement of our DMV creative community.

Longer Mission Statement

Alper At A Glance

  • 2,000 square foot space
  • 5 exhibitions of Washington art per year
  • 1 common gathering area and exhibition space
  • The ONLY museum space in DC dedicated to the display, research, and encouragement of the region's art and artistic community
Their presentation of the initiative mission and vision has generated supportive feedback from the community.

"I think there has always been a separation from the National Identity of Washington, DC and the Local Identity of DC. Partnering with the American University Museum helps to soften those boundaries and raise the level of critical attention towards local talent."
— Judy Byron, Local artist\

“The Alper Initiative is in the process of revolutionizing the way that Washington, DC sees its visual artists; this is a game-changer for our area's cultural tapestry.”
— F. Lennox Campello, local artist and art critic

Letter from the Director

The Alper Initiative for Washington Art is the gift of Carolyn Small Alper, a Washington artist, AU alumna, and philanthropist. It provides the space and resources to fulfill one of the American University Museums’s primary objectives and meet one of the region’s greatest needs: to promote an understanding and appreciation of our region’s art and artists from our past, present, and future. It is an exhibition space and a place for study and research. But it is first of all a meeting place for people and ideas. Its most important contribution to the Washington region may well be the opportunities it provides for us to exchange perceptions and, perhaps, rewrite the history of Washington art.
The Initiative presents five exhibitions of regional artists each year, creates publications and programming to engage and build the audience for Washington art, and serves as a resource for its study and critical appreciation. Curators are solicited to propose appropriate exhibitions, and artists are invited to submit their work for consideration on our website.
The Initiative is a part of a thriving museum that for ten years has specialized in presenting Washington artists in the larger context of national and international contemporary art. Washington art is strong, intelligent, and relevant, and has earned a prominent place in contemporary cultural discourse. Thanks to the Alper Initiative for Washington Art, we have the means to present serious, focused exhibitions for all the world’s appreciation and enlightenment.
Jack Rasmussen
Director and Curator
American University Museum

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The curious case of the disappearing/reappearing Capitol painting

The story so far: A Congressman selects a painting from his district to hang in the U.S. Capitol building, and the painting depicts cops as animals. The painting, done by David Pulphus, shows the protests and riots in Ferguson, Mo. after a police officer shot Michael Brown, reports the Independent Journal Review.

It also shows a muscular Brown (I think, because of the graduation cap) as a Christ on the cross, and a feral slim black wolf (in Timberland boots?) encountering the obese police.

As a work of art, the painting, done in a naïve style, leaves a lot to be desired, as a narrative work, it is powerful enough that it has started a mini art war in Congress!

The painting was chosen by or on behalf of  Congressman Lacy Clay (D - Missouri), and is part of the well-known Congressional Art Competition. The Pulphus painting sometimes hangs, then gets removed, then gets re-hung, in a tunnel between the Capitol building and the Longworth House Office Building.  Clay represents Ferguson, Mo., where Michael Brown was shot and killed by police after fighting with a cop who had stopped him.

The real life cops (who are depicted as fat animals in the painting, one seems to be a horse, and one seems to be some kind of a wild pig, and curiously, all seem to be black or brown) are justifiably pissed off by the depiction, and have complained vociferously about the piece, and where it is hanging.
Andy Maybo, president of The Fraternal Order of Police District of Columbia Lodge #1 said, “This piece of art, which depicts officers as pigs, is both offensive and disgusting. During a time in our society when tensions are so high that someone can be offended by a single word, this painting does nothing but attack law enforcement to its core.  The fact that a member of Congress would advocate and praise such a painting is reprehensible.  We, in law enforcement, regardless of the police department we work for, are held to higher standards that certain Members of Congress now have made a mockery of.”
And then Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) personally removed the painting from the wall, and then the painting became a political football, as narrative art often does... you never see anyone bitching about abstract art, do you?

It is not the first time that artwork has been censored/removed/covered up in government buildings in the DMV; and more often than not, artwork is "censored" waaaay before it is ever hung - censored in the selection process that is... when was it the last time that you saw a nude acquired as a public artwork in the DMV? I will tell you, somewhere between the 1800s and the halcyon days of the WPA.

"Older" artwork, even historical pieces, have been censored by political censors routinely around here...

Remember when Luis A. Luna, the Assistant Administrator, Office of Administration and Resources Management announced a decade ago a decision to install a "temporary screen" to cover up several historical murals on the 5th floor of the Ariel Rios building in Washington, DC. These murals were created under a 1934 U.S. Treasury art commissioning program, and have apparently been the subject of complaints over the years, and were also once previously covered up during the Clinton Administration, before being apparently exhibited again during the Bush administration, before being hidden from view once more... no idea if they are covered up again, but five gets you ten that they're either covered up or (worse) have been removed. The murals which have titles such as "French Explorers and Indians," "Torture by Stake," "The Red Man Takes the Mochila," etc. depict a diverse set of panoramas ranging from spectacular scenes of the often violent interaction between the American West's native nations and the new settlers, to artistic recreation of historical meetings between European explorers and native Americans.

Soooooo... who's right and who's wrong in the current Pulphusian saga? As faithful readers know, I'm nearly always on the side of the artwork, and rage against the censor. This case is a tough one for me personally, as I really, really understand the thin blue line perspective on this.

In some cases where I have been on the side of the censor, it has always been from the perspective of "he who owns the walls", but that doesn't apply in this case, as those Capitol walls are owned by the people of the United States.

Is the painting insulting to police? Of course it is; it was meant to carry a very caustic message, and it does that superbly well.

Does Duncan have a right to remove it, since it was properly sponsored by another politician? Of course he doesn't.

The painting needs to hang freely, lest we approach art as Cuba, North Korea, China, Iran, etc. approach art. And remember when nearly the entire world was aghast when the Taliban destroyed the gigantic Buddha sculptures that were offensive to that repressive mentality, and we all condemned the demolition as a vile and barbaric act of cultural ignorance and artistic destruction?

I don't like the painting and the narrative that it relays, but I defend the right of the painter and his sponsoring politico to hang it.

Artomatic Moves into Crystal City for 2017

Artomatic, the planet's greatest visual arts show that everyone on Earth loves and that most art critics hate, returns for its signature art event, which is going to be held this year in Crystal City, Virginia. Artomatic draws hundreds of artists and performers throughout the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area to showcase their talents for a six week long free exhibition that routinely attracts thousands of visitors, and the wrath of art critics.

This year, the Crystal City Business Improvement District (CCBID) welcomes Artomatic back to Arlington County for the third time in a 100,000 square foot space, located at 1800 S Bell Street with a spring opening date on Friday March 24th. 

Artomatic is well-known for transforming empty spaces into vibrant arts communities that create unique and exciting events for tens of thousands of visitors - all free to visit. Anyone can show art at Artomatic - it is non-juried and art is selected on a first-come, first serve basis - so it’s a great way to discover new art.

In addition to visual art Artomatic also features a range of performing art forms throughout the exhibition – live music, dance, spoken word, comedy as well as professional development series and special events showcases.  Every night of the event, thousands of people visit Artomatic to discover new art, grab a drink, listen to music, go on dates, and mingle with the creative community. No matter what kind of creative events you like, you’ll find something to like at Artomatic.

“We are very excited to be working again with the Crystal City BID, a constant champion of the arts, to create a unique, invigorating and brand new artistic experience for all visitors to enjoy”, said Jennifer Williamson, current Artomatic Board President. “We will be conducting Artist tours starting from mid January to allow interested participants an advance glimpse of their artistic home for six weeks where they can start imagining the endless creative possibilities they can do with the space”.

“We first brought Artomatic to Crystal City in 2007 in order to demonstrate the transformation that was already in progress – a new main street, fun restaurants – as well as to underscore how easily accessible our neighborhood is from DC.  The second showing in 2012 helped us further showcase our emerging arts and innovation scene,” said Crystal City BID President/CEO Angela Fox.  “Now in our third iteration, we are excited to mark the beginning of the next generation of growth, engagement and creativity for Crystal City.”

Launched in 2013 to transform Crystal City’s interior concourse into a vibrant arts and cultural destination, the Art Underground includes Synetic Theater, the 1200-foot long FotoWalk Underground, ArtJamz Underground, the Gallery Underground, TechShop, and Studios Underground which provides work space for two dozen artists.

Visitors have easy access to Artomatic with the Crystal City METRO Station, as well as plenty of parking and bus stops nearby.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The curious case of the most expensive photo ever sold

So six months ago, he had an idea. Nearly every Peter Lik photograph is printed in a “limited edition” of 995; the first print sells at about $4,000, with the price rising as the edition sells out. With his eye fixed on a record-setting sale, he printed a single copy of “Phantom.” Then he alerted a handful of his most ardent collectors, one of whom, he said, agreed to the $6.5 million price. Before the deal was signed, Mr. Lik hired a public relations firm to make sure that the sale, and the record, were noticed.
“The P.R. firm dropped those off yesterday,” said Mr. Lik, looking at four fat ring binders, which an associate had just plopped on a table. They contain hundreds of stories from around the world about the “Phantom” sale. Typical was the reaction of Time magazine, which published the headline, “This is officially the most expensive photo ever.”
It’s hard to know what’s “official” about it. Previous records in photography were set by competing bidders in public auctions for images that were familiar and celebrated. This was a private sale for a newly printed photograph, and scant details were offered. But while the buyer’s hidden identity inevitably arched some eyebrows, anonymity in such deals is not unusual. Joshua Roth, the Los Angeles lawyer who represented the buyer, declined to name his client, though he emphasized that the client exists.
Despite the reported size of the deal, the art world greeted the news mostly with silence.
Read the NYT article here...

Monday, January 09, 2017

Portrait painting gets politico in hot water

Former Senate minority leader Harry Reid used leftover campaign funds to pay one of his staffers to paint a portrait of himself, campaign records show...
... The Washington Free Beacon uncovered the expenditure last August, when they noticed a $7,000 check paid from Reid’s campaign committee, Friends of Harry Reid, to Gavin Glakas, one of Reid’s former staffers. Glakas had already painted a portrait of Reid’s wife Landra, which hung on a wall in his office on Capitol Hill. At the time, the Free Beacon reached out to both parties for comment but did not receive an answer... 
...Although both FEC regulations and House ethics rules prohibit the use of campaign funds for “personal use,” this is not the first time a politician has used campaign funds to commission a self-portrait.
Read the report by Sara Gonzales here. 

Artists and Obama

Sarah Gottsman's editorial titled "From Chuck Close to Shepard Fairey, How Artists Captured Obama’s Historic Presidency" takes a 10,000 foot level view of the subject, which is of course always interesting, no matter who the Prez.
While many presidents have been the subject of art (with one—George W. Bush—recently becoming an artist himself), President Barack Obama has been a particularly popular muse for artists. His historic presidency has inspired an outpouring of artworks, from both amateur and established artists.
Shame that Ms. Gottsman is not a DMVer, otherwise she would be aware of the many, many artists and many multiple views of the current Prez that have been exhibited at Charles Krause Fine Art, which have included many artists' favorable views of POTUS, plus a sprinkling of negative and critical views (both from the left wing nuthouse and the vast right wing conspiracy's perspectives) of the Prez.

Read the editorial here.

And below are some of my "Obamas" over the years...

"Young Obama" (Detail)
Charcoal, circa 2008
In a private collection in North Carolina
"President Obama as The Batman
Charcoal, circa 2014 (10x10 inches framed)
In a private collection in Washington, DC
"Obama as Atlas"
Charcoal, circa 2006-2014 Framed to 20x16 inches (Updated Yearly)
"Eyes of Obama"
Charcoal, circa 2014 (Framed to 5x7 inches)
In a private collection in Miami
"President Obama Walking to His Right"
Charcoal, circa 2014 (10x20 inches framed)
"President Obama Looking to his right"
Charcoal, circa 2014 (Framed to 10x10 inches)

"President Obama Walking to the Left" (Detail)
Charcoal, circa 2014 (10x20 inches framed)
"President Obama Walking to the Left"
Charcoal, circa 2014 (10x20 inches framed)